Fence Sitters, Switch Hitters, and Bi-Bi Girls: An Exploration of “Hapa” and Bisexual Identities

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2009-11-18 21:36Z by Steven

Fence Sitters, Switch Hitters, and Bi-Bi Girls: An Exploration of “Hapa” and Bisexual Identities

Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies
Vol. 21, No. 1/2 (2000)
Asian American Women
pp. 171-180.

Beverly Yuen Thompson, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies
Texas Woman’s College

I had been wondering about taking part in a student theatre project about being Asian American, and I said to Tommy, “The thing is, I don’t feel as though I’ve really lived the . . . Asian American experience.” (Whatever I thought that was.)

Tommy kind of looked at me. And he said, “But, Claire, you are Asian American. So whatever experience you have lived, that is the Asian American experience.”

I have never forgotten that.

-Claire Huang Kinsley, “Questions People Have Asked Me. Questions I Have Asked Myself.”

Claire Huang Kinsley articulates a common sentiment among multiracial Asian Americans regarding their racial and ethnic identity. She describes the reaction that her mixed heritage has provoked from Asians and Anglos, both of whom frequently view her as the “other.” In response to these reactions, her faith in her racial identity has been shaken, and she feels unable to identify herself-fearful of being alienated for choosing either her Chinese or Anglo heritage, or both. Although she knows that she is mixed race, the question that still plagues her is whether or not she is included in the term “Asian American.”‘

When I first read Kinsley’s article, I was elated to find recognition of a biracial Asian American experience that resembled my own. I have a Chinese mother and an Anglo-American father, as does she, and I am constantly confronted with questions about my ethnic background from curious individuals. Like Kinsley, I also question my ability to call myself Asian American because of my mixed heritage. However, in addition to my mixed heritage, I am also bisexual, which brings with it additional complications and permutations around my identity formation and self-understanding. The process of identity formation, especially of multiple identities, is complex and lifelong, and my experiences have been no exception.

Though I have always understood that I was mixed race, a true understanding of what this meant in terms of my self-understanding and my relation to the dominant culture and Asian American communities did not develop until I was much older. My first exposure to the political side of identity politics came at the ages of fourteen and fifteen when I began to develop a feminist understanding of the world around me. Then, at seventeen, I first began to call myself bisexual after two years of questioning my sexuality and believing that the only options that were available were either a lesbian or straight identity. Finally at the age of nineteen I began to uncover the history of Asians in America through my college course work and developed a newfound understanding of my racial identity and its political implications. Yet, as is usually the case, this process was never as linear as it may sound…

Read the entire article here.

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The Dismissal of the “Mulatto”…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, Identity Development/Psychology on 2009-11-18 19:15Z by Steven

The dismissal of the “mulatto” through his emasculation is historically grounded: “so frequently did nineteenth century writers depict octoroons as delicate beauties that the word itself began to conjure up images of passive femininity. Although by definition an octoroon was either a male or a female with one-eighth Black blood, Black men in novels were rarely described as such.” There is, of course, an immense bibliography of work (primary and secondary) concerning the “tragic mulatto” as a typically female protagonist, who is unable to find her place in society because of her biracial heritage. This displacement has sexual implications, explains Cynthia Nakashima: “[b]ecause of the structure of power and domination in the American gender system… weakness and vulnerability can be very exciting and attractive when applied to females.” Although the mulatta narratives are intended to evoke sympathy, they often culled readerly desire instead.

Dunning, Stefanie. “Demystifying the Tragic Mulatta: The Biracial Woman as Spectacle.Stanford Black Arts Quarterly 2.3 (Summer/Spring 1997). 12-14.

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Labeling People: French Scholars on Society, Race, and Empire, 1815-1848

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2009-11-18 18:58Z by Steven

Labeling People: French Scholars on Society, Race, and Empire, 1815-1848

McGill-Queen’s University Press
264 pages
6 x 9
15 drawings
Cloth ISBN: (0773525807) 9780773525801

Martin S. Staum, Professor of History
University of Calgary

An examination of techniques used by scholarly societies to classify people that constructed the image of an inferior “Other” to promote social stability at home and a relationship of domination or paternalism with non-Europeans abroad.

Nineteenth-century French scholars, during a turbulent era of revolution and industrialization, ranked intelligence and character according to facial profile, skin colour, and head shape. They believed that such indicators could determine whether individuals were educable and peoples perfectible. In Labeling People Martin Staum examines the Paris societies of phrenology (reading intelligence and character by head shapes), geography, and ethnology and their techniques for classifying people. He shows how the work of these social scientists gave credence to the arrangement of “races” in a hierarchy, the domination of non-European peoples, and the limitation of opportunities for ill-favored individuals within France.

While previous studies have contrasted the relative optimism of middle-class social scientists before 1848 with a later period of concern for national decline and racial degeneration, Staum demonstrates that the earlier learned societies were also fearful of turmoil at home and interested in adventure abroad. Both geographers and ethnologists created concepts of fundamental “racial” inequality that prefigured the imperialist “associationist” discourse of the Third Republic, believing that European tutelage would guide “civilizable” peoples, and providing an open invitation to dominate and exploit the “uncivilizable.”

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Situating “Race” And Racisms In Space, Time, And Theory: Critical Essays for Activists and Scholars

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Social Science on 2009-11-18 03:28Z by Steven

Situating “Race” And Racisms In Space, Time, And Theory: Critical Essays for Activists and Scholars

McGill-Queen’s University Press
256 pages
6 x 9
Paper: (0773528873) 9780773528871
Cloth: (0773528865) 9780773528864

Edited by

Jo-Anne Lee, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies
University of Victoria

John Sutton Lutz, Associate Professor of History
University of Victoria

A resource for anti-racist scholars and activists.

Grounded in real life and theoretically charged, the nine essays in this interdisciplinary collection explore how race, racisms, and racialization are changing and suggest strategies for reading their emerging forms and discourses. Race has historically been defined by visible difference, but the slippery nature and malleability of racisms and racialising processes challenge scholars and activists to remain vigilant, responsive, and critical in their analyses and actions.

This collection explores the strengths and weaknesses of postmodern social theory in the struggle against racism. Recognizing diversity as a conduit for resilience, endurance, and strength, the editors have tried to encourage coalition building by bringing together historians, sociologists, cultural theorists, and literary scholars in dialogue with artists and activists. Topics considered include nation formation, racialized states, cultural racism, multiculturalism, hyphenated and mixed-race identities, media and representation, and shifting identities.

Contributors include Jeannette Armstrong, director of the En’owkin International School of Writing in Penticton, Canada; Frances Henry, professor emirita at York University; Yasmin Jiwani, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University; Paul Maylam, chair of the Department of History at Rhodes University, South Africa; Minelle Mahtani, assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, and the Program in Journalism, University of Toronto; Roy Miki, professor of contemporary literature in the English Department at Simon Fraser University; Roxana Ng, professor in the Department of Adult Education, Community Development and Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute of Secondary Education/University of Toronto; Ali Rattansi, retired professor of sociology at City University London; Ann Stoler, distinguished professor and chair, Department of Anthropology, New School University in New York; and Carol Tator, course coordinator in the Department of Anthropology, York University.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Toward a Critical Literacy of Racisms, Anti-Racisms?
and Racialization

Jo-Anne Lee and John Lutz

Deconstructing Race? Deconstructing Racism (with Postscript 2004)
A Conversation Between Jeannette Armstrong and Roxana Ng

On Being and not Being Brown/Black-British: Racism, Class, Sexuality?
and Ethnicity in Post-Imperial Britain (with Postscript 2004: The Politics of Longing and (Un)Belonging, Fear? and Loathing)

Ali Rattansi

Mixed Metaphors: Positioning ?Mixed Race? Identity
Minelle Mahtani

Turning In, Turning Out: The Shifting Formations of ?Japanese Canadian? from Uprooting to Redress
Roy Miki

Racist Visions for the Twenty-First Century: On the Banal Force of the French Radical Right
Ann Laura Stoler

Unravelling South Africa?s Racial Order: The Historiography of Racism, Segregation? and Apartheid
Paul Maylam

A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Globe and Mail Editorials on Employment Equity
Frances Henry and Carol Tator

Orientalizing ?War Talk?: Representations of the Gendered Muslim Body Post-9/11 in The Montreal Gazette
Yasmin Jiwani


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“Real” Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood

Posted in Books, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Science on 2009-11-18 03:08Z by Steven

“Real” Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood

University of Nebraska Press
303 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8032-8037-3

Bonita Lawrence, Associate Professor
York University, Ontario, Canada

Mixed-blood urban Native peoples in Canada are profoundly affected by federal legislation that divides Aboriginal peoples into different legal categories. In this pathfinding book, Bonita Lawrence reveals the ways in which mixed-blood urban Natives understand their identities and struggle to survive in a world that, more often than not, fails to recognize them.

In “Real” Indians and Others Lawrence draws on the first-person accounts of thirty Toronto residents of Native heritage, as well as archival materials, sociological research, and her own urban Native heritage and experiences. She sheds light on the Canadian government’s efforts to define Native identity through the years by means of the Indian Act and shows how residential schooling, the loss of official Indian status, and adoption have affected Native identity. Lawrence looks at how Natives with “Indian status” react and respond to “nonstatus” Natives and how federally recognized Native peoples attempt to impose an identity on urban Natives.

Drawing on her interviews with urban Natives, she describes the devastating loss of community that has resulted from identity legislation and how urban Native peoples have wrestled with their past and current identities. Lawrence also addresses the future and explores the forms of nation building that can reconcile the differences in experiences and distinct agendas of urban and reserve-based Native communities.

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Racial Union: Law, Intimacy, and the White State in Alabama, 1865-1954

Posted in Books, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2009-11-18 02:42Z by Steven

Racial Union: Law, Intimacy, and the White State in Alabama, 1865-1954

University of Michigan Press
368 pages
6 x 9
Cloth: 978-0-472-09885-9
Paper: 978-0-472-06885-2
Ebook: 978-0-472-02287-8

Julie Novkov, Associate Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies
State University of New York, Albany

Co-winner of the American Political Science Association’s 2009 Ralph J. Bunche Award for the best scholarly work in political science.

A stunning exploration of America’s attitudes on interracial marriage.

In November 2001, the state of Alabama opened a referendum on its long-standing constitutional prohibition against interracial marriage. A bill on the state ballot offered the opportunity to relegate the state’s anti-miscegenation law to the dustbin of history.  The measure passed, but the margin was alarmingly slim: more than half a million voters, 40 percent of those who went to the polls, voted to retain a racist and constitutionally untenable law.

Julie Novkov’s Racial Union explains how and why, nearly forty years after the height of the civil rights movement, Alabama struggled to repeal its prohibition against interracial marriage—the last state in the Union to do so. Novkov’s compelling history of Alabama’s battle over miscegenation shows how the fight shaped the meanings of race and state over ninety years. Novkov’s work tells us much about the sometimes parallel, sometimes convergent evolution of our concepts of race and state in the nation as a whole.

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